New Mexico Medical Board Exonerates Doctor in Late-term Abortion Case

Feb 7, 2013

Protesters at the Southwestern Women's Options Clinic

An Albuquerque physician accused of gross negligence in handling a third-term abortion has been exonerated by the New Mexico Medical Board. The complaint against Dr. Shelly Sella wasn't filed by the patient, but by local and national abortion opponents.

According to court documents, In May of 2011 the unnamed patient was referred to Dr. Shelly Sella at Southwestern Women's Options Clinic by her doctors in New York, when she learned her nearly nine-month old fetus had severe brain and skull defects.

Once at the Albuquerque clinic, the patient underwent a procedure for a third-trimester abortion, but was rushed to a hospital after suffering a ruptured uterus.

Shortly after, anti-abortion activists with Operation Rescue gained access to the 9-11 call through New Mexico's sunshine laws, and filed a complaint against Dr. Sella.

This morning the New Mexico Medical Board voted unanimously to exonerate Sella of charges.

Sella's lawyer, Molly Schmidt-Nowara, says she commends the states medical board for it's decision.

"I think this is a victory for women's health. I think it's a victory for women's reproductive rights. The full exoneration of Dr. Sella is a reflection of what a good doctor she is and what good care is given at southwestern women's options clinic."

The American Civil Liberties Union says Operation Rescues tactic of obtaining clinics 911 tapes has been used regularly in other states.

The Southwestern Women's Options is one of four clinics in the nation that conduct the late-term procedure.